There are infinite reasons to meditate and nearly as many ways to get started. Meditation has many benefits, including eliminating or managing the cumulative effects of stress, enhancing mental focus and productivity, improving physical health, managing chronic pain, increasing your capacity to sleep, and expanding your happiness, positivity and peace of mind. In essence, meditation is a doorway to understanding ourselves, others and the greater mystery of life.
The longer, warmer, brighter days of summer and glorious night skies are a great time to start a meditation practice. Since the beginning of time, nature has served as a reset button we can press to realign our daily rhythms for their optimal function. Nature also offers the perfect place and space to experiment with a new meditation practice – and you don’t need to be in the woods to do it.
Here are three simple nature meditations to revitalize your own internal light.
A basic nature meditation practice begins with a directed focus on sound only.
- Find a safe spot under a tree in a forested park, or a park bench near a body of water, in your backyard or any other quiet place that embodies nature to you.
- Sit comfortably and notice your breath moving in your body. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your ability to hear.
- Direct your awareness to all the sounds of the environment, beginning with your breath and then expanding out to be aware and interested in all the sounds present in your environment. Notice them in great detail.
- If one sound really captivates your interest, stay with it and focus on that particular sound for a while. Use it as your anchor sound when your mind wanders and enjoy how, as you focus, your mind simultaneously softens and feels expansive.
- Sit for as long as you’re comfortable, and when you are ready to complete your practice, reconnect with your breath: take 10 slow, deep breaths as you gently and slowly begin to open your eyes, and allow sight to resume. Take in the environment with your newly sound-informed perspective.
Find a comfortable seat in a safe nature spot. Either close your eyes, or find an object such as a tree or plant or rock, and let your gaze rest upon it. Begin your meditation by visualizing each breath entering your body as energized light. If it helps, give it a color and imagine it as a white or yellow light.
- Use your ability to imagine and visualize the breath filling your lungs with bright healing light. Consider this energy to be beneficial, physically and mentally and emotionally. If it’s challenging to imagine light, imagine expanding heat instead.
- With each exhalation, imagine the breath releasing any negativity, aches, pains or concerns that you have. See them leave your body with your breath as a dark gray or black color that is neutralized by the fresh air and dissipates into the light of the healing sun. Imagine all of the negativity in your body and your life leaving your body. See your body as an energetic field growing brighter and more expansive with each breath.
- Continue visualizing this cleansing and releasing for a while, and then sit and enjoy your sense of well-being and renewed vibrancy.
- When you are ready, end the meditation and return to your day.
A sunbath is a great meditation for warmer days. A modification of the traditional Sun Gazing methodology, meditating in the warmth of the sun’s light is a great way to restore vitality and increase energy as well regenerate after a busy week.
- Prepare your skin to prevent any sun damage or wear light, breathable clothing, make sure you’re hydrated and find a comfortable, safe space to sit outdoors. It’s best to avoid high sun, and especially beneficial to sit in early light and at the end of the day as the sun begins to fall away.
- Sit with your back erect, either on the ground or on a bench, with your palms turned upwards. Close your eyes and place your attention at your belly and the abdomen, and breathe normally, neither restricting your breath nor slowing it down.
- Notice the sensations on your skin as you breathe, and visualize spreading the energy of the sun from the top of your head to the rest of your body. Set an intention if you wish, and practice keeping your eyes, jaw, shoulders and hands relaxed.
- Use your mental focus to follow the sensations of the sun on your skin and imagine it moving into your skin, into your blood and muscles, softening any tension and moving deeper to nourish your organs with life-giving energy.
- If your mind is distracted by a sound or thought, just return to the breath and to the amazing sensation of the sun.
- After a while, bring your palms to your eyes and gently cup them, and slowly allow your eyes to open. Sit for another moment or two, breathing, and then gently open your eyes, slowly take your hands away, and take in the beauty of the day.
Your nature meditation does not have to end when you’re finished sitting. Carry on and bring your renewed mindset to your day. Throughout the day, notice all of your activities with gentle awareness. Just noticing the activities you are doing, almost as an observer, is a sure way into refined mindfulness and a more peaceful, present and light-filled life.